Minoprio the comeback kid
After sneaking into the Quarter Finals of the Korea Match Cup yesterday, Adam Minoprio steered Team Alpari FX to a 3-0 victory and a spot in the Semi Finals.
Minoprio won against his fellow Kiwis, Phil Robertson and WAKA Racing. The third and concluding match was the most exciting and controversial. After a flurry of simultaneous gybes, luffing matches and counter moves, Robertson copped a penalty from the umpires, then another in quick succession. The rules say that when you’ve got two penalties you’re obliged to clear at least one of them immediately. But in trying to manoeuvre in order to clear the penalty, Robertson fouled Minoprio a third time and gave the umpires no choice but to raise the black flag, signalling instant disqualification for Robertson.
“I’ve always felt strong racing Phil,” said Minoprio. “But that last race was pretty exciting. The best races are when the crew has got heaps on, the boats are being thrown around and penalties are being flown. Fortunately for us everything went our way, which hasn't been the case in this regatta so far. The mojo has just flown in our direction rather than someone else's for once.”
Robertson was unhappy but philosophical about his harsh exit. “It’s a crap way to end, with a black flag. I don't completely agree it was the right call, but that's the way it is. So be it. There was a lot going on in a short amount of time, especially when you're on board, powered up, overpowered actually, trying to throw in a gybe at the bottom mark. A lot going on. It was really tough conditions out there.”
To lose to a rival Kiwi team added salt to the wound. “Yeah, it makes it a little bit harder. You always want to be No.1 in your own country, and to lose to Adam was, yeah, definitely disappointing. We felt pretty strong against him and we look forward to coming back in Sweden a lot stronger.”
Today’s Houdini escapologist was Mathieu Richard, skipper of GEFCO Match Racing Team, who went 0-2 down to Keith Swinton and Black Swan Racing. Then the French team hit their stride and won the next three matches to book their spot in the Semi Finals. “We felt we had not sailed so badly and we felt we could have won those two first matches,” said Richard. “So we decided not to change anything but to sail the best way we could and actually it worked. Getting 3-2 after 0-2, it’s a good feeling.” As winner of the Korea Match Cup in 2010, the experience seems to be helping the French. “Winning here in 2010 is good for the confidence,” said Richard. “We know we can sail well here, but that's all. All the other teams are sailing well too.”
Keith Swinton felt his team had sailed well even if the result wasn’t what he wanted. “There was nothing in it, just very close racing. We sailed just as well in the Quarter Finals as we did in the Qualifying stages, even if the result was very different. We've raised our game but disappointed not to be able to go further.”
Taylor Canfield has been one of the most consistent performers thus far in the regatta and today the USone team dispatched Johnie Berntsson and Stena Sailing Team 3-1. “I’m just really pleased with our boathandling and the crew keeping the boat going fast,” said Canfield, who believes they can go all the way. “We have what it takes. We just missed out on the Semis in Germany, so having another chance to prove ourselves is nice.”
Having sneaked into the Quarter Finals, Berntsson was unable to move further in the competition. “Some bad sailing from our side,” said the Swede. “But Canfield did a good job of forcing us to make mistakes. When they sail as well as they did, it's tough to beat them. Starts were really important here, and what this week showed is that we need to improve our timing for when we make our final approach to the start line.”
Reigning champion of the Alpari Match Racing World Tour, Ian Williams, beat the 22-year-old qualifier David Gilmour 3-0. But the Briton admitted: “The first two races could have gone either way, the score line's a bit flattering but we're just happy to make it to the Semis.” The young Australian was pleased with his week despite the 3-0 defeat. “On the score card it doesn't look very close but we had our opportunities. We were ahead all the way to the finish of the first race but we couldn't quite wipe off our penalty in time at the finish. Against such a well-polished team like Ian's, it's hard to win.”
Ian Williams picked Mathieu Richard as his Semi Finals opponent, saying: “Mathieu was the only one to beat us in the Qualifying this week and he beat us in the Final here three years ago, so we want revenge.”
Semi Finals got started late in the day, with the race committee looking to make best use of the strong wind. In each Semi Final, the first boat to 3 points will see it through to the Final tomorrow. Richard won the first match against Williams after pulling off the manoeuvre of the regatta, overtaking GAC Pindar at the leeward mark in a daring move that paid off handsomely. In the other flight, Minoprio crossed the start line slightly too early, being forced to return and leaving Canfield clear for a first-match victory.
Tomorrow is the final day, with the two winning teams from the Semi Finals set to contest the Final of the Korea Match Cup.
Semi final results after flight 1
Mathieu Richard (FRA) GEFCO Match Racing Team vs Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 1-0
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone Sailing Team vs Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Alpari FX 1-0
Quarter final results
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 3-0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) GEFCO Match Racing Team vs Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 3-2
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone vs Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team 3-1
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Alpari FX vs Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 3-0